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Comment Go back to '96 (Score 1) 523

I'm a self-taught computer guy. It seems that it was much easier back in the 90's, prior to the dot-com collpase of '01, to get hired--even if the best you could do was to spell "c++"! I think the bar has been raised since then, making the computer degree far more valuable in some ways.

I'd say there's a lot of good advice here. I'm not sure if anyone has mentioned Top Coder yet, but that is another thing you might consider participating in. Get some credentials, even if they aren't of the college variety. Have a portfolio and something you can show that is rather impressive.

Comment Re:Obvious really (Score 1) 676

You will find this discussion of the Invisible Hand in the Theory of Moral Sentiments. I refer you to Part IV, section I, paragraph (I think) 10. It is clearly stated that "nature imposes upon us in this manner..." Alas, the advanced money economy is not a natural system. Thus the Invisible Hand cannot function as described.

I do not believe that Adam Smith is a particularly contradictory philosopher, only that times have changed and we now make less sense of him. I suggest that Ayn Rand is more the demi-philosopher that you are after.

Comment Re:Obvious really (Score 2) 676

Ever read Adam Smith? I have. Smith's economic theory of "self-interest" worked great up until the development of the mature money economy. In other words--not for very long. It was originally based on the idea that the rich landowner would naturally distribute his goods among his tenants, or else risk the material wealth going to waste. After all, he could only personally benefit from a small portion of it. Today's wealth is more effectively locked up in abstractions that offer the potential for eternal, useless hoarding. As Georg Simmel's vision of the purely abstract money economy came to fruition, the power of Smith's "Invisible Hand" to benevolently and naturally distribute wealth was destroyed.

How about Adam Smith's other revolutionary theory? You know, the one that claims our moral system is based on fellow-feeling; something he called "sympathy"? Maybe we ought to try that one now.

Of course, the way you interpret "sympathy" is what varies, but I am pretty sure that, for the majority of humans, sympathy is fairly narrowly defined.

Pick your model of human behavior, say it is so, and we'll mostly go along with it.

Comment Re:Representative Republic (Score 1) 1277

I'm afraid this isn't anything, if not partisan.

The word "Republic" comes from the Latin, res publica. It means that government is a public affair. The word "democracy" comes from Greek, demos and kratia. It means that government is a public affair. The two words are synonyms that come from different linguistic roots.

The argument arises from the desire to control the meaning of words. He who controls the vocabulary also controls the argument. Inevitably, those who argue against "democracy" eventually qualify their claim with "pure" democracy or "true" democracy. It hardly matters, though. What is effectively attacked is democracy itself.

Of course it is. The same Utah legislature that insists on indoctrinating children against democracy has just passed H.B. 477, a law that removes government transparency and allows these politicians to work in secret. Res publica, indeed.

Comment Re:The real risk is not technology... (Score 1) 779

How does real knowledge change you?

It seems to me that you have to assign some sort of value to the knowledge before the knowledge has any power at all. Does a fact come with its own meaning attached?

We can say that fact is truth, but most seem to want a meaning to go along with it. That abstract value is not something that we can discover with a scientific method. Thus, religion is more often a pursuit of the Good and not simply the True. Whether religion ends in goodness is a different question altogether.

Those who cannot distinguish the good from the true tend to see religion as a thing full of sub-human animals striving to fill their existential void with lies. It is no wonder, then, that the greatest atrocities in history have been perpetrated by godless men. It is easy to do such things when you believe that "most aren't intelligent enough to think."

Comment Re:Piling on the bandwagon (Score 1) 779

Speaking of motes and beams, it would appear that the perceived baggage and apparent hypocrisy of the Catholic church at various times in history now prevent most people in this forum from considering the merits of an interesting idea: that high-fidelity alternate realities, made possible by technology, can in fact draw people away from the mundane and often tragic realities of the physical and human world around them.

No one will consider this idea, except to lump it in with all of the other ugly planks the Church is seemingly exclusively known for; and we will tell the Pope where he can go with his Luddite theories since we do not listen to hypocrites!

As I see it, the problem with those who fancy themselves critical thinkers is that they too often impute error to the ideas of scoundrels without further ado. Some self-styled "reasonable" people seem to think that an idea is wrong simply because of the poor sort of thinking that its purveyor is known for. You are not really interested in truth, only in method; this gives you an odd sort of kinship with the religious people you despise.

Comment Re:You know what they say (Score 4, Insightful) 193

Some ideas are not effectively conveyed through the language of entertainment. Sometimes the mode of learning conveys a stronger message than the content of the lesson. Worse than rewriting history is to trivialize it. Occasionally we have good reason to rewrite history, such as when new evidence is presented; but only tyrants and fools frame history as a burlesque.

Comment Re:What momentum may that fork have? (Score 3, Insightful) 198

Yes, I am quite aware of how the term is "commonly" used, which is precisely the precondition for my complaint. Otherwise, why complain at all? I'm not sure what your argument is.

If we distinguish "junk science" from actual "science," why not "junk revisionism" or "negationism" from legitimate "revisionist history?"

Since the vocabulary needed for talking about a worthwhile and valid way of reexamining history has been overloaded to mean the same thing as its false and invalid counterfeit, legitimate revisionism suffers.

The problem is compounded every time someone pulls out the fallacy, "That's revisionist history!"

Imagine if politically motivated rubbish and honest research required the equivocal term, "science". One of those disciplines, the one more difficult to justify to the layman, might suffer as a result. Whenever we wanted to debunk something, we'd just hurl the epithet, "science", at it.

That's what I'm complaining about. It's just a crazy, petty Stallman-esque neurosis I have.

Comment Re:What momentum may that fork have? (Score 1) 198

If the parent's view is wrong (and maybe it is--I don't know), this is almost certainly not because of "revisionist history."

Revisionist history happens, legitimately, when historians review the best sources available and arrive at a conclusion about a story that does not entirely agree with how it has been told in the past. When history is "revised" in this way, it is because the old stories have been based on sources that are less reliable, incomplete, contradictory, or of lesser quality.

Something similar happens in science, when new evidence or understanding comes to light and theories are changed or improved.

For some reason, when it comes to history, "revisionist" somehow always implies "wrong."

Comment Re:Can You Spot the Difference? (Score 1) 407

In retrospect? How much of America's power infrastructure was diverted to the development of centrifuges for creating the materials needed for nuclear weapons? It was fortunate, it turns out, that we had those big New Deal projects after all. Meanwhile, Hitler had trouble keeping his airplanes and tanks fueled as early as 1943. I'm sure that a nuclear weapon in the hands of the Nazis seemed like an imminent threat in those days. In retrospect, not so much.

Comment Re:Interpret it correctly (Score 1) 676

****A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.****

I notice you put emphasis on only the portion of the text that you care about. I participated in a series of essays that argued the topic in detail, although not entirely about the 2nd amendment, but using that as an example. Here's the link if you are interested in a logical argument about it. It's too prolix to reproduce here. In short, I pointed out how the 2nd amendment, unlike the other rights in the Bill of Rights, is not a simple imperative but an argument that contains a distinct antecedent and a consequent. Since it is an argument, that means certain things about it could be examined and tested for truth, raising the possibility that there are contexts where the right can be regulated without being infringed (specifically in cases where professional police and military forces are hired). David Cooney argued the other side, but I don't feel that he addressed the important points. I'm always interested in discussion about it.

Comment Re:Well here's the thing (Score 1) 604

I like what you said and I think it's largely true.

Notice that I called out "monopoly" capitalism, which is the kind that happens when you don't believe that there is "enough" capital to go around. When Darwinism takes over (competition instead of cooperation), then we tend to hoard things and make people into capital too. When people become instruments of capital rather than owning their own productive property, then you have businesses that act as mini states, as we now see is the way of things in America.

So, why don't people just "take their capital back"?

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